Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that he would resign from his post a week after a report from the office of state Attorney General Letitia James revealed he had sexually harassed or assaulted 11 women, most of whom worked for the state.
Cuomo, in a speech on Tuesday, said resigning was the only way to allow New York to move forward.
“I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing – and therefore, that’s what I’ll do,” Cuomo said. “Because I work for you and doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you.”
The resignation will become official in 14 days, he said, citing the need for a seamless transition period between him and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who will succeed him for the remainder of his term. Hochul, who agreed with Cuomo’s decision to step down, will be the state’s first female governor.
Cuomo, a Democrat, reflected on the allegations from women and spoke on some of the reports’ findings. The 165-page report’s findings, based on interviews with 179 people, indicate Cuomo violated multiple federal and state laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and New York State’s Human Rights Law.
Cuomo apologized to the women, claiming he meant no malice with his actions, but recognized that they offended the women who came forward. Cuomo also claimed that the most serious allegations made against him lacked “factual basis.”
“This is not to say that there are not 11 women who I truly offended,” Cuomo said. “There are and for that, I deeply, deeply apologize.”
Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) announced last week that Cuomo’s legal counsel has until Aug. 13 to provide any evidence or documents to the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee to consider as it weighs his potential impeachment.
Lavine, who has spearheaded the impeachment investigation against Cuomo for the past several months, said the investigation is nearing completion and that Cuomo’s legal counsel has until 5 p.m. on Aug. 13 to submit anything for the committee to examine. A spokesperson for Lavine did not provide further comment on what the impeachment process would be going forward, but said a hearing scheduled for Aug. 16 is still on.
Rich Azzopardi, the state’s communications director and senior adviser to Cuomo, said in a statement, “the Governor appreciates the opportunity. We will be cooperating.”
Lavine, in a statement, said he has the utmost faith in Hochul to continue to lead New York over the next year.
“As we begin to move forward, let us recognize the courage, strength and integrity of the women who dared to come forward,” Lavine said. “Moreover, let us commit ourselves to continuing the battle for the inalienable rights of our sisters and daughters in New York and in every other state.”
New York and Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs said the state “could not be in better hands” with Hochul taking over as governor.
“Kathy Hochul has always and relentlessly fought for the people of New York,” Jacobs said in a statement. “Her experience at all levels of government – town board member, county clerk, congresswoman, and lieutenant governor, makes her uniquely well-equipped to effectively govern the State at this time. I am confident that incoming Governor Hochul’s empathy, work ethic and authentic concern for the welfare of its citizens will make her an outstanding governor for our dtate.”
Jacobs, in a letter, touted some of the governor’s accomplishments over the past decade in office but made it clear that New York “and its citizens are better off having had Andrew Cuomo” serve as governor.
Jacobs said he hopes that the “legacy and progressive change” and progressive infrastructure Cuomo spearheaded throughout his tenure as governor “will outshine the darkness of this sorry episode.”
Jacobs, who had been one of Cuomo’s closest allies, also made it clear that the findings by the James’ office clearly showed evidence of sexual harassment and a toxic work environment and that he believed all of the women’s allegations against Cuomo.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Cuomo’s resignation was a somber time in New York’s history but reflected the importance of accountability in government moving forward.
“Working with Governor Kathy Hochul, the first woman Governor of New York State, we will continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, rebuild our economy and face our challenges standing together,” she said in a statement. “Governor Hochul is a dedicated leader, and united, we will get the people’s work done.”
New York’s Republican chairman, Nick Langworthy, criticized Cuomo’s recent work throughout the coronavirus pandemic and said it is important that the impeachment process continues so he may never run for office again.
“Whether it was his numerous pay-to-play and corruption scandals, his deadly nursing home coverup or his $5 million book deal, the New York Republican Party has traveled across the state to expose the real Andrew Cuomo, even when it was a lonely solo mission.” Langworthy said. “We will not rest until the entire stench of the Cuomo Administration is wiped clean from state government and we usher in a new era of integrity and common sense under a Republican governor in 2022.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) touted Cuomo’s work in a statement, saying he hopes his successor is able to follow in the footsteps of the accomplishments he achieved in office.
“The Governor has done the right thing by resigning,” Suozzi said. “There is no doubt that Andrew Cuomo has accomplished much for our state, from the property tax cap, to rebuilding our infrastructure, to instituting a $15 min wage and battling COVID. It is imperative that our next governor continue the positive achievements of the Cuomo administration and help once again make New York the Empire State.”
U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) said the successive administration has to focus on keeping the coronavirus at bay, revitalizing the economy and ensuring schools are safe to attend for everyone involved.
“[The new administration] must restore faith in New York state government by creating a culture where women are respected and every public servant is treated with the dignity they deserve,” Rice said.
Officials throughout Nassau County also said in statements that Cuomo’s resignation was the right course of action to focus on bipartisan work throughout the state.
“Governor Cuomo’s decision to resign will help New York State refocus on the business of the people,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat seeking re-election this year, said. “I look forward to working with Kathy Hochul as the next Governor to move Nassau County forward.”
“New York needs strong leadership in Government to ensure that we overcome those challenges, and build back better and stronger than ever,” state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) said. “I believe that our Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is immensely qualified to step into that role on day one and lead New York to brighter days.”
“While Andrew Cuomo’s resignation does not absolve him in any of his ongoing criminal investigations, it does allow our government to move forward,” Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) said. “Republicans and Democrats need to work together to ensure this is a new era of bipartisanship, reform and progress that New Yorkers can be proud of. I’m sending my best wishes to Kathy Hochul today.”